Career Interrupted, Child Loss and Finding a Release Valve. How Karen found her way
My name is Karen and I am going to share some of my story …
I grew up in a small community in Indiana with my mom and dad, and my siblings. My mom worked in the home when we were younger and then began working outside of the home when we got older. My dad always worked. He worked a full time job but also spent a tremendous amount of time volunteering in our community. Both of my parents were very, very active in the community with volunteering and being active in church, on top of working at their respective jobs. It was, and still is, amazing to me seeing how active they were while raising me and my siblings. As I got older, I too became more and more active. I helped volunteer with my parents, I ran track in high school and began participating in pageants. One thing that sticks out for me in my journey is that I remember being very aware of how people viewed me in our community, largely because my parents were so well known.
Fast forward my life … college … job …
When I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone. This was a new chapter in my life. I was working and in my 20’s and had gained 40lbs and my blood pressure was going up. I was worried about my health and my weight gain.
I remember deciding that I had to get healthy again and drop the weight that I had put on. I decided to start jogging because that was all that I knew to do, to lose weight and get healthy.
Full disclosure here. I did not have a good jogging stride and I was out of shape. And when I went out to run, I was conscious of it. So when I went out jogging, if no one was in their yard or driving by, I would jog and just be out of breath about ready to fall over. But then when someone was driving by or would come out on their lawn, I would straighten myself up and stand tall and jog like I was an Olympian! No lie! LOL! Thankfully, I was able to lose the weight.
wife … mother …
I became a wife. I became a mother. I worked in the home and volunteered. I easily sacrificed my time and my energy for my kids. I sacrificed a lot for my husband, my family, and my church. I take after my parents who are amazing people and taught by example.
As a wife, a mother, working in the home and volunteering, what being healthy looked like and how to accomplish this did not leave room for being an Olympic runner. At this point in my life, the challenge had become, how do I balance “being active enough with my kids and family” and “doing enough in the community and with my church” and coordinating this with living healthy – exercising, eating well and taking care of my well-being.
living life …
Two hugely significant events occurred in my life. I lost a child. I went to a support group when my child died. Everyone reacts differently in that situation, some in the support group were angry, some very sad, … yes, those things were there, but not once did I question why? I wanted to know physically what happened, but I knew there was a higher purpose, and it was okay to not know why or what the purpose of that was. And it’s hard.
The second thing, … I had to have an emergency surgery. Having to have the surgery really hit me hard. I was in my late 30’s, and for a period of time after having the surgery, I felt like I was physically in my 60’s. Feeling physically much older than I was, led to a change in me emotionally.
I felt like I was kind of breaking down physically. I wasn’t working out. I was eating whatever I wanted. I was over-weight. And it was really a struggle. At a doctor’s appointment, once again I was told my blood pressure was going up. I thought, “I have got to get my act together!”
So I prayed and I said to God, “God, you have got to help me out … you have got to give me a sign … and show me how am I going to get myself together so that I can help myself, and so that I can be there for my family.” And I needed Him to make it plain and make it clear to me so that I could see it! That same day, I walked into school to volunteer and I saw my neighbor Nicole. She came right up to me and said “hey, do you want to join my gym” – just out of the blue! And guess what I said?!
Doing life differently …
That was the turning point on my journey to a better me. I joined and when I learned more about what Fit Chicks does in addressing fitness, nutrition AND well-being, I said “THANK YOU GOD!”
Fitness is not the most challenging of those 3 things for me. It’s well-being that is the challenge for me … I do have a sweet tooth and yes, I do like bacon, just like the next person, but I have the will power to say “no” AND I have learned strategies to help with saying “NO!”
When I think about well-being and what that looks like for me, it’s going to my personal trainer led work outs. I don’t have to think about what to do, I just do what the trainer tells me. My work outs have become part of my “release valve” in a sense because I don’t have to “think”, it’s my time for me. In addition to that, I know that I am modeling healthy action to my children by going to my workouts.
I have 2 “mantras” that I try to remember as I live life now. One is “this is not your whole story” and the other is “how you feel at this moment is not how you’re going to feel forever.”
I see other women who are living life and evolving and who are also trying to find balance and figure out where or how they can fit “themselves” in to the life they are living. They are trying to figure out how to make themselves a priority ALSO in their lives that are filled with work, children, family, volunteering … so that they are taking care of themselves, in addition to the other people in their lives.
I recently had been trying to reach out to a friend, and I felt like she was ignoring me because she hadn’t responded to several text and calls. I did not realize her parents had been ill, and I learned that she had been really busy taking care of them when I finally ran into her one day. She started to open-up as we were talking, and she began talking about how she was having a hard time trying to figure out what makes her happy, what her purpose was, where she belonged? She has kids, she has a husband, she volunteers, but my sense was that she was feeling lost and feeling like she doesn’t matter.
I hugged her. I wanted her to know that she’s important too. It’s okay to not know why you are here, on this earth. Why do some things happen? Like why did my child die?
Sometimes I think in part, it’s hard not knowing some things because technology has made us instant gratification people, and so we can get online and find an answer to something quickly. But getting to this place of being okay with “not knowing”, was an evolution for me. It was an evolution for me to know that, I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to be perfect in the eyes of everyone else, and I don’t have to have all of the answers, even though it is amazingly fun to be right! 😉
But it’s okay. And I’ve learned that just being able to say “it’s okay” is a form of well-being that helps me be healthy and helps me to keep going, and helps me be okay with me, and where I am in my journey.